Respecting Our Elders and Why I Share

So while I was raised to always always respect my elders even the ones that may have a trick or two up their sleeves, irrespective I was taught to respect them. I’ve carried that teaching with me throughout my life. I to this day will go out of my way to help an older person. I will grab a door, a shopping cart or lend a hand whenever I see an opportunity. I find myself on many occasions walking behind older people and racing to the door so I can get it for them. I just was taught the dire importance of honoring people who are older. Why is respecting our elders so important and why I share?The reason I share this is because I had an incident at the super market that propelled me to do something I suppose in some ways is within my character, but others very much outside my character.As I was walking through the supermarket I saw a man, I would say in his late 40s to early 50s, fit, healthy from all appearances. He looked to be in optimal shape. He was vibrant let’s say. Gliding along. Then as I continue forward I see an elderly man, in his eighties I will presume pushing a shopping cart ten feet behind the vibrant fellow. The older man seemed to be struggling to push the weighted cart and gliding along in front him the younger vibrant fellow proceeded weighting it down with items. The older man continued forging ahead with what looked to be some certain amount of struggle.I was astounded to say the least. I could not believe my eyes. And while there is the possibility that the older man needed the cart to help him along, this I just intuitively knew was not the case.I continued in my direction as they continued in theirs. I could no longer focus because it really was so disturbing. I finished collecting my items and proceeded to the checkout dismayed and unnerved only to wind up directly behind them.The vibrant younger fellow and the elderly man were accompanied by a pair of young girls, tweens I suppose. They were laughing, giggling, bubbly happy little girls. Darling, they were. I wondered if the vibrant dad didn’t want to push the cart, why he didn’t have the girls pushing it? That’s how it would’ve been for me. I certainly was never raised to allow my elders to push weight. If my mom and dad weren’t pushing, I’d be doing the pushing, certainly not the eldest of the bunch.So to my dismay they are in front of me, they too had just arrived at the checkout. I then see the older man grabbing his wrists that just so happened to be bandaged up. I was startled at the site. He was grabbing and massaging his wrists once he had his short break from the cart. Grabbing and massaging his bandaged wrists in what appeared to be pain or severe discomfort. Then I took notice that he was standing and walking just fine on his own two feet so it couldn’t have been that he needed the cart to assist in his walking which is something a few people had proposed upon sharing the story.I was baffled, disturbed, troubled and truly disheartened. I couldn’t stand bearing witness so I left the lane and went to self checkout. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of sadness and despair. I didn’t understand why the vibrant man or the girls were not pushing the cart?With little time I was propelled to take action. I was unable to focus on my groceries and checking out, but instead knew I needed to do something so I asked a store clerk for a pen. I reached in my purse armed with the pen, grabbed a napkin and proceeded to write.I wrote all I could think at the time in bold caps, “MAYBE YOU SHOULD PUSH THE CART?”They had already checked out and were heading out. I raced across the store. The tweens were behind the younger and older man. I folded the napkin twice over. I tapped one of the girls on the shoulder and said, “Can you please give this to your dad? Thanks.”I then made my way back across to the other end of the store to my groceries shaken, but with conviction knowing I had delivered a powerful message. I checked out and headed out the door on the opposite end of the store.Meanwhile I could see across the lot the four exiting out of the other door, but now the younger vibrant man was pushing the cart. The elderly man was walking behind him. The girls still skipping along. The younger man had a look of unclarity upon his face, even shame.While it was not my intention to shame him, he did appear somewhat shamed. The poor older man looked confused also. As if he didn’t know why he was no longer pushing the cart as if that had been his designated role and asserted duty all of those trips to the supermarket with his son or son-in-law. It seemed as if the older gentleman did not know how to handle the freedom or honor of simply tagging along freely because he was wanted, not needed.I walked across the lot and watched and pondered. When I got to my car I had a total breakdown thinking about the older man and the look of unworthiness.While many may not agree with my actions and while most would never take such action, I am proud of my action and know I was propelled by the universe to deliver a message. And I know with shear conviction I did the right thing.I know the vibrant young man’s future shopping excursions are forever changed. I am lucky and fortunate to have been taught the profound lesson of loving, honoring and respecting our elders. They age and slow down and may begin to repeat things and aren’t as capable and become dependent more and more. It is up to us to remember that our parents and grandparents when they were young and vibrant took care of us and sacrificed so much for us. The roles have reversed, but that’s just life. We don’t get to be selfish and not do back and give back.While we can be selfish and self absorbed and not pitch in and lend a helping hand to our own elders and others, it is our own soul evolution and spiritual elevation we stunt in the process.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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